About the Miss Mary Project

The Miss Mary Project is a job preparatory training program that helps low-income working age community members achieve the mindset, skills, and job opportunities necessary to pull themselves out of poverty and onto a path for real success.


Rather than only train people to get a job, the Miss Mary Project provides the leadership and people skills most applicable in today’s changing job markets to position students as highly desirable and promotable employees.  Students develop self-confidence, leadership, vocational and interviewing skills, and learn the roles responsibility and independence play in building financial security.


At the Miss Mary Project, we believe students have an advantage when church is the center of community life. Social and family bonds, and purpose are strongly held values that help individuals succeed.  As a result, the church community forms the foundation for our educational work. Religious leaders help identify, develop and encourage our future business leaders.


We believe each one of us has the spirit of Miss Mary inside. That spirit is ignited, and we become personally and financially free, when we have four assets.


1. The mindset to succeed.

2. A desire for financial security, property rights, and freedom.

3. The work skills to reach your dreams and help others reach theirs.

4. Job opportunities to apply 1 – 3.


The Miss Mary Project provides low-income people of working age each of these resources.


We are proud to announce that The Miss Mary Project is working with the Urban Society for Advancement.

While the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was formed in 1965 to assist with urban housing for the poor, the agency soon assumed the additional role of assisting people out of poverty. Yet HUD has fallen far behind in both areas. From 1965 to 2016, U.S. poverty has remained between 11% and 15% of our population, and despite HUD’s attempts to provide affordable housing, today there are over 11 million Extremely Low Income (ELI) households (those earning less than 30% of the area median income) and a shortage of 4 million homes in which they can afford to live and pay rent.


But there is a bright light. According the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “the shortage of affordable housing turns into a surplus further up the income ladder, giving higher income households a broader range of affordable housing options.”


HUD’s traditional answer to creating “higher income households,” has been to use taxpayer subsidies to move poor families to “opportunity rich” neighborhoods. The agency calls this relocation “upward mobility.”  But, as in the past, HUD’s results can take decades to manifest, and often range from poor to modest. The Miss Mary Project takes a different approach to helping people out of poverty.

“A bedrock American principle is the idea that all individuals should have the opportunity to succeed on the basis of their own effort, skill, and ingenuity.”  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, 2007


At the Miss Mary Project, we see our poorest Americans as rich and promising resources that can add to our nation’s prosperity. We help raise their income levels by creating self-earned upward mobility, so low-income families can go from dependence to affording their own “broader range of housing options.”


For centuries, America has been a land of opportunity.  Each succeeding generation earned more and had better lifestyles than their parents. Recent studies show, that trend continues. But not for everyone.


Today, 43 million Americans remain in poverty and the high jobless rates in urban and suburban poor neighborhoods make the American Dream seem unreachable for many families.  More food stamps and larger vouchers are temporary aids.  It is real jobs and the opportunity to build savings and owning a home that builds income mobility.


The Miss Mary Project provides men and women the skills necessary to succeed in community life, advance at work, and begin building a sound financial future.  Our program is based on nearly 30 years of experience teaching in the public-school system and in corporate and personal leadership development.  We work with churches, local governments, vocational schools and local businesses to provide these opportunities.

To use free market solutions to provide low-income families a high opportunity path out of emotional and financial poverty.


The Miss Mary Project is a training program that helps working age community members in America’s urban and suburban low-income neighborhoods, to gain upward mobility through training in self-confidence, leadership, monetary responsibility, and vocational and interviewing skills.  We work with local churches and businesses to provide transportation options and help create job opportunities.

Community outreach – Our team meets with community members to explain to families how our project works and what students can expect.   We are there to answer questions and build a bond that encourages parent and community participation to help students succeed.


Personal skills training – Our educators teach emotional intelligence, community leadership skills that transfer to the workplace, interviewing skills, and the importance of property rights and financial responsibility to success. This is a 5-day course.


Vocational training – Our team maintains relationships with vocational and technical schools to assist students in receiving training.


Community resources – Miss Mary team members meet with church leaders, local government officials and develop relationships with local vocational schools and businesses to help students receive the background, skills’ training, and job opportunities to begin their careers.

Students are pre-screened through an interview process covering availability, attitude, and drug use before entering the Miss Mary Program.  They are informed of appropriate general attire and the importance of being on time and attending class prepared to learn.




Everyone knows what it is like to get excited about a dream, then feel the discouragement when attempts to make it come true fall flat.  Students learn there will be many barriers to building independence. Life, our friends, and even ourselves will get in the way of having a better job, getting promotions and building real financial success. Some students are too busy surviving day to day to believe they can get ahead.  Friends may discourage progress by saying life is too unfair to succeed, you can never make it on your own, or that your past will hold you back. Our instructors use a holistic approach to teach students the skills to use their mind and body to overcome daily challenges and stay aligned with their strengths.  As a church-centered project, each student receives spiritual support to manage setbacks and build prosperity.



Leadership skills are not something people turn on when they go to work and off at home. Students learn to adopt practices and attitudes that set them apart as leaders in whatever they are doing.  Instructors teach accountability, active communication techniques, listening, critical thinking, and what it means to accept responsibility and be recognized as a person who gets good things done.



The makeup of the workplace is changing and with it comes changing demands for skilled workers.  This is an opportunity for Miss Mary Project graduates to surpass others. MMP engages with businesses to give our students the most current skills companies demand. The new digital workplace requires collaboration, adaptability, and the ability to work in a transparent environment. Tomorrow, there will be new demands.  Whatever the requirements, our instructors are prepared to provide students with the skills to have a competitive edge over other candidates and employees.




The growing income gap in our nation often discourages the poor from even trying to get ahead.  To many it seems like the American Dream is a fraud except for an elite few. Our instructors help students regain the spirit to want more and help them discover their own drive to excel. They see examples of people who have exited the worst poverty to gain better lives, while learning that success is reachable. Students learn techniques for developing the discipline to dig out of debt and methods to stay on track while they build financial wealth.



A successful job interview requires more than dressing neatly and giving the right responses. Students learn how to discover what the hiring company wants in a candidate and how to display the traits most likely to win the job. They learn how to respond to curveball questions and the importance of active communicating during the interview.  Instructors teach students how to adjust their mindset to stay confident and in control. Mock interviews give students the chance to practice before going on their first live interview.

The Story Behind Our Name

The Miss Mary Project was named after a real life “Little Boat that Could.” Built in the 1920’s, when polished wood racingboats were the rage, Miss Mary was a modest runabout whose grains and colors were poorly matched.  But inside she had a toughness and a spirit that led her to break all racing records in her class and become be the envy of the boating world.


Built in 1922 by famed designer and builder John Hacker, the wooden boat, Miss Mary seemed like an unlikely champion.  In a time when racers sported rich mahogany and finely blended grains, Miss Mary looked unassuming with her mismatched wood and colors.


Three times she entered the prestigious American Powerboat Association Gold Cup (APBA) event, only to finish last in her first try and never finish the remaining two.


The tremendous pounding wood boats take as they speed around the course, soon weakens their bottom and it appeared that Miss Mary was already near the end of her racing career.


But in 1926 a new owner saw life that everyone else missed.  George Reis knew that beneath the deck was a spirit of a winner.  George and his boating partner, Dick Bowers lovingly overhauled the failed racer and at the ripe old age of 9, a time when most similar craft retired, Miss Mary was entered in the National Sweepstakes and the President’s Gold Cup.  George renamed her ‘El Lagarto’, Spanish for the leaping lizard.   Leap she did.  In 1931 Miss Mary, now El Lagarto, took home two first place trophies in a career that was just beginning.


Over a 5-year period she entered nine national races and won eight. She won 3 President’s Cups, 3 APBA Gold Cups and 2 National Sweepstakes awards.  The little boat that most thought never had a chance won 3 Gold Cups 3 years in a row, a feat that stood unmatched for over 30 years.


Miss Mary may have had a humble start and a bland exterior, but underneath she had an unstoppable soul.

Our Latest Updates

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann Praises Miss Mary Project

I was honored to meet with Congressman Chuck Fleischmann from Tennessee's 3rd District just hours before the 2017 eclipse crossed the Chattanooga skyline.  Mark West of Liberty Ridge Ranch in Cleveland helped arrange the meeting, which included Pastor Ternae Jordan from the Mt. Canaan Baptist Church in Chattanooga. Congressman Fleischmann has a history of reaching out to those in poverty ...
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Pastor David Cox and John Anthony Show How to Reach Your Dreams

This past week, Pastor David Cox invited the Miss Mary Project to speak about setting and hitting your goals for congregation members at the Venture Church in Easley, SC. This was a special honor, because David is not only a pastor, but a successful developer in the Greenville area and knows what it means to set goals and do the ...
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David Cox joins the Miss Mary Project to help families reach their goals

David Cox joins the Miss Mary Project to help families reach their goals

David Cox, a successful South Carolina business entrepreneur and founder of the Urban Society of Advancement for the Greater Good of Humanity, will join me on September 7th, 2017 in presenting the 1-hour teaching program, "Learn to Get What You Dream." Often, even when they have the skills and opportunities, members of low-income families harbor routines that prevent them from busting ...
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Our Leadership

John Anthony, President

John Anthony is a former teacher, nationally acclaimed speaker and for 25 years owned Corporate Measures, a training firm that specialized in building cohesive business units. John’s work concentrated on discarding preconceptions and understanding other team members and issues, as the key to forming working bonds.


John is deeply concerned about political practices that polarize Americans and the ‘dumbing down’ effects the media’s misrepresentations have on citizens. His workshop, “Shattering America’s Trance” unravels these distortions using techniques that pull community members together behind common concerns.


John’s presentations include “False Choice, How Sustainable Development is Transforming Your Community”, “Common Core, the Transformation of American Education”, and “Understanding Dodd-Frank”. His emphasis is on presenting accurate information in a manner that encourages viewers to want to learn more.


In 2010 he created the popular news website, DidYouKnowOnline.com and broadcast “The President’s 6 Billion Dollar Coincidence”, a media presentation with over 2,800,000 views. Mr. Anthony assisted Nick Purpura and Don Laster in their lawsuit citing 18 constitutional violations in the Affordable Care Act that was reviewed by the Supreme Court. He is the author of the DVD, “Straight Talk About Planning”, the report, “Inside the World of Planning” and designed the “Planners’ Resolution to Protect Property Rights”.

Tammy Barber, Board Member

Mrs. Barber is an owner of BarberWind Turbines, LLC. She serves as the Director of Sales and Marketing where her primary focus is assisting Debbie O’Hara in developing brand identity, brand equity, and sales channel development. Prior to BarberWind Turbines, Tammy owned Moxie Equestrian, Inc., a global equestrian company furnishing high performance products for horse and rider. She sold Moxie Equestrian in 2010. Prior to Moxie Equestrian Mrs. Barber was the Creative Manager for BI-LO, Inc. where she directed the creative team in developing sales and marketing materials to support $3B USD in annual sales. In 2002 Tammy won the Ahold Global Advertising & Promotions Crown Award for the top global contribution to Ahold networking.


Beyond her professional commitments, Tammy has had extensive volunteer board work in Greenville, South Carolina currently serving on the Poinsett Club Board of Governors where she also serves as the Chair of the Poinsett Club House Committee, the South Carolina Arts Foundation Board of Directors, and the Senior Action Board of Directors where she is the Chair of Special Events.


Other board work includes serving on the board of the St. Francis Foundation 2007 – 2015 where she served as the Chair of Special Events, was a member of the Major Gifts Committee, and St. Francis Society; Artisphere 2007 – 2015 where she served as Chair of the Performing Arts Committee; BeachBall Foundation 2004 – 2009 where she was co-founder of the event and a Charter Board Member; the Greenville Professional Women’s Forum 2010 – 2015, where she is a past-President. She has also served on the board of the Roper Mountain Science Center Association, the South Carolina Ballet where she served as Marketing Chair, and the International Center of the Upstate. She has chaired numerous events such as the 2011 U.S. Navy SEAL Tribute Gala and currently serves as the President of the Mauldin Garden Club 2015 – 2017.


Tammy attended Furman University where she majored in vocal music performance. She is a twenty-seven-year veteran of the stage, performing in over sixty-five productions carrying over thirty lead roles. She is an award-winning choreographer and the 2015 Dancing With The Carolina Stars Champion.


Together Tammy and her husband Jerry have six children and eight grandchildren.

Karen Bracken, Board Member

Karen Bracken is the retired District Manager for Verizon Corporation now living in Tennessee.  In 2014, she ran for and won a four year term as a County Commissioner for Polk County Tennessee. She is very politically active and has developed a nationwide network of key public figures to help keep them informed about issues concerning education and property rights. Karen has spent a great deal of time with legislators in Nashville Tennessee to help guide the course of Tennessee.


Karen has a deep interest in helping the people of her rural community to pull themselves out of poverty and strive for independent success.  Karen is married, has one daughter, 4 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Stacy Shea, Board Member

Stacy Shea is the President of Adamantine Alliance, which she founded with her husband, retired Navy SEAL Thom Shea. Stacy delivers inspirational keynote speeches to groups across the country. She is the promotional force behind Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life.


Her passion for supporting military families was demonstrated as she served as the Ombudsman for SEAL Team 7 and the President of the FRG for Naval Special Warfare Group One while her husband was on active duty.


Along with her deepest passion for being a devoted mother and wife, she comes from a professional background, having spent 14 years in the investment business. She managed individual client relationships and was responsible for the professional development of her staff at Advest, Inc., Legg Mason Wood Walker and Washington Mutual.


“The driving force behind all successful warriors is a non-compromising Spartan Wife.” says Stacy Shea.

Earl Wallace, Board Member

Earl Wallace is an army veteran, teacher and conference speaker, pastor, author and leadership development consultant and instructor.  Earl is the founding pastor of Liberty Christian Fellowship Church, in Halfmoon, NY.


Earl has worked with youths his entire adult life both as a high school English teacher and teaching 2-3 weeklong youth and family Bible conferences.


A champion of the disadvantaged, as a New York State veterans’ benefits representative, Earl assisted a female veteran to obtain a retroactive rating that spanned 1994 – 1954.  He went on to become The New York State Dept. of Labor Veterans Program Administrator, where he assisted a team of over one hundred employees overcome several years of underperformance.


In his book, The Three-Dimensional Leader: Negotiating Your Mission, Resources and Context, Earl explains the leadership system which organized, trained and motivated those successes.


Earl is pleased to join John Anthony and the board of the Miss Mary Project to assist others to learn how to position themselves for success and prosperity.